However, ‘why do we kill people 50 who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong? ’3 A person convicted of murder in the state of Texas is automatically eligible for the death penalty. It is generally considered unacceptable to kill, however, if the person is being punished for a crime that he has committed then the death penalty is in some countries applicable and accepted, thereby contradicting the so-called ‘moral truth’ put forward by religion. 55 The Iraq war has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, mainly Iraqi civilians who
have no part in the actual conflict but who were living in Baghdad when bombs started landing, or simply present in a market the day a suicide bomber struck. During the initial phases of ‘operation Iraqi liberation’, President George W. Bush and UK prime minister Tony Blair claimed they had evidence that Saddam Hussein was building 60 ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ in his country – claims which turned out to be totally unfounded. These claims were used to support the ‘doctrine of Just War’. The two countries’ political leaders then changed tack and used the excuse ‘the end justifies the
means’ to support their actions. The name ‘Operation Iraqi Liberation’ gives people a sense of patriotism and that what they are doing is right. The context in which the 65 3 http://thinkexist. com/quotation/why_do_we_kill_people_who_are_killing_people_to/208319. html 3 ________________ governments of the USA and UK put the evidence for the invasion has given the impression of a just war. This context was, however, built up using emotive language, colourful displays of patriotism and many fallacies. This context was required in order make their ‘just war’ (jus ad bellum, jus in bellum) cause true.
From the point of view of the leaders of the USA and the United Kingdom, the war in Iraq is justified; however if we were to examine the standpoint of the insurgency in Iraq then we see a clear difference in perception of the truth. The West believes it is liberating while the Iraqi insurgency see ‘liberation’ as an invasion. Once again, the truth of the situation depends on the context. We see from this that one’s perception of ‘truth’ is dependent on things such as cultural background and political viewpoint. 70 75 The table I am sitting at to write this essay appears to be hard – another a-priori truth.
I know this by using my senses and I can deduce empirically that the table is suitable to be rested upon. However, scientifically, I know that this table is mainly empty space for there are spaces in between the molecules held in a lattice, vibrating at high speed. Richard Dawkins likens atoms at a molecular level to balls in a sports hall, one ball or 80 atom in one sports hall, with the next atom in the next sports hall along. So the hardest of materials are, in fact, predominantly empty space. Dawkins describes us as living and evolving in a ‘middle world’ where we move at middle speeds and are of middle size.
We can comprehend that if we run into a wall we will knock ourselves out. If we had neutrino brains and we had developed from neutrino ancestors, our brains would be able 85 to process the spaces between the atoms and we would in fact be able to move through walls. What we perceive is not a direct translation of the world around us. Each organism has developed from different ancestors and perceives the world to his own benefit. A monkey, Richard Dawkins claims, needs to be able to visualise a 3D world of 4 ________________ branches and trees, whereas a water skater lias no neea tor a 3d world or a perception of 90 gravity because its whole world is on the surface of a pond.
The context in which the world is interpreted changes from species to species. It is convenient for humans to see colours (differentiating wave-lengths) because we live predominantly in the light, however for a bat living in darkness most of its life, it is more suitable for it to use its ears to perceive colours. The context changes the usefulness of external sensory 95 information. Evolution has enabled humans to operate successfully in the context of Dawkins’ middle world.
We exist in a world where we must make sense of situations as we find them. That may involve making judgements and evaluating historical, artistic, mathematical, religious and moral information. I believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth, and that 100 Margaret Atwood was right when she said ‘context is all’.
Bibliography 1. TED Educational Documentaries. ‘Queerer than we can suppose’ – Richard Dawkins , 2. Theory of Knowledge, Alehin N, 2003 John Murray Ltd, London 3. http://www4. ncsu. edu/unitv/lockers/users/f7felder/public/kenny/papers/godel. html (date visited: 29 january 2008).